Saturday, December 01, 2012

Christmas 2012: Lights, Satire & Philosophy


The first scan below is from Browning page 63, the other Oliver page 220. I only scanned part of Oliver. These were used on a Christmas post for this same blog in 2010.

BROWNING, W.R.F. (1997) Oxford Dictionary of the Bible, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

OLIVER, O.G. Jr. (1996) ‘Christmas’, in Walter A. Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Grand Rapids, Baker Books.

The birth of Christ was documented in the Gospels (Mathew 1-2, Luke 1-3), and Christmas was an event brought about by the Church to highlight the birth of the Son of God, the God-Man the one that atoned for humanity within the new covenant (Hebrews 12) that was resurrected and will lead his followers to resurrection (I Corinthians 15).  Therefore, on principal, I do not have a theological or philosophical difficulty with the historical fact that Christmas is not strictly 'Biblical' because the birth of Christ, whatever technical day is actually is, is Biblical, and the salvific work, the atonement and resurrection is well-documented in Scripture. It should be noted that a key to the New Testament was to document accurately the religious history, as compared to 21st Century historical standards which aim to document the date and time exactly. This would also be made easier with modern technology.

The issue of Santa Claus brings controversy in the Christian Church.

From edited:

'The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.'

'Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Nicea in AD 325.... He died December 6, AD 343...This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, Saint Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).'

Obviously, there is a difference between this documented historical Saint Nicholas and the modern day Santa Claus. Santa Claus is largely used a marketing tool, especially in the Western World to assist in the sale of merchandise in the Christmas Season.

Theologically and philosophically I do not see the modern Santa Claus as 'Satan Claus' but rather as noted a commercial marketing tool and also a fantasy outlet for children and to some extent adults at Christmas in the context of toys and wonderment. I do not have a major problem with it but I would not replace God, or Jesus in any way with Santa Claus in a child's life. Therefore, a Christmas could be very much Christ and God focused, theologically (philosophically) and with related imagery, but a radical hyper-fundamentalist type of opposition to all things Santa would not need to be adhered to. I to an extent see Santa, when properly put in his place, and that is the key, like Batman, Spider-Man, Scooby-Doo or other fictional commercial figures that may have appeal, especially to children at Christmas time.

Now the hyper-fundamentalist can argue that Batman and company are not Christmas idols to some like Santa Claus is and that is true, to the same degree, for the most part, not knowing every situation. But, Santa, like Batman and company is a basically benevolent fictional character that can in context, be put in his (or her place if needed) in order to allow God/Christ to be at the centre of Christmas.


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